Betrayal: Labor Leader Trumka Turns Against Trump’s Popular Tariffs

AP Photo/Nick Ut

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has turned against President Trump’s tariffs on imported foreign-made goods just as their popularity surges among American workers and business owners.

In an interview with CBS News, Trumka says he no longer supports the direction of President Trump’s tariffs — specifically those imposed on imported steel and aluminum — designed to protect American industries and jobs from unfair, foreign competition.

“There were far too many countries, and so it lessens the effectiveness of tariffs as a way to enforce trade agreements,” Trumka told CBS News of Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. “Trade and tariffs – those type of corrective actions – should be taken with a rifle shot and not a shotgun.”

“When he does something right, we’ll support him, and when he does something wrong, we’ll oppose him. And unfortunately, we have to oppose him right now more than we support him,” Trumka continued.

The labor leader’s sudden opposition to Trump’s tariffs comes after he has supported the president’s fair trade agenda, most famously writing an op-ed in the Washington Post where he blasted free trade absolutists as “beholden to Wall Street.”

Trumka wrote in support of the tariffs in March:

What working families really need is a wholesale rewrite of global trade rules. We need new rules that will help build a fair and sustainable economy — rules that don’t put more importance on profits than on our communities. We’re working to create those new rules in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In the meantime, in the context of years of inaction by the U.S. government and our trading partners, these tariffs are a necessary first step and we are proud to support them.

Trumka’s decrying of Trump’s tariffs also comes as the president’s agenda to protect American jobs and industry is increasingly supported by American voters and U.S. business owners.

As Breitbart News’s Financial Editor John Carney noted, the latest survey of business owners by the UBS Wealth Management Americas revealed that:

  • 69 percent of business owners support additional tariffs on imports from China
  • 88 percent of business owners said China engages in unfair trade practices
  • 66 percent of business owners support additional tariffs on Mexico
  • 64 percent of business owners support tariffs on goods imported from Europe
  • 44 percent of business owners say Trump’s tariffs will be good for their business

Meanwhile, American workers have continuously praised Trump’s protective tariffs despite constant opposition from the free trade absolutists at the Chamber of Commerce.

Though Trumka has betrayed Trump on tariffs, the United Steelworkers Union continues to support the administration’s fair trade agenda, writing in a statement last month:

“Opponents of the tariffs must stop deliberately misleading the public about national security,” officials with the workers union said in a statement. “What does pose a threat to national security is continual diminishment of U.S. steel and aluminum-making capacity caused by unfair trade practices, mostly by China. The tariffs are intended to shore up U.S. capacity to ensure its availability for defense and our critical infrastructure.”

Researchers with the Coalition for a Prosperous America say for every billion dollars of net imports to the U.S., 6,000 American jobs are eliminated in the economy.

After the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented, American manufacturing employment plummeted with more than 5.5 million manufacturing jobs being eliminated since 2000.

Since 2001, free trade with China has eliminated at least 3.4 million American jobs for U.S. workers, as Breitbart News reported.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.


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